April 30, 2022

Murder Rape - Celebration of Supreme Evil (1994)

Country: Brazil
Language: English
Genre: Black Metal
Label Number: CDCOGD 010

© 1994 Coguemlo Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: murder rape, celebration of supreme evil, 1994, flac,

Tone‐Lōc - Cool Hand Lōc (1991)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 314-510 722-1

© 1991 Delicious Vinyl
Aiming for credibility among hardcore hip-hoppers, Delicious Vinyl was careful not to include a lot of pop-influenced material on Tone-Loc's second album, Cool Hand Loc. But sadly, the inventiveness he displayed on "Wild Thing" continued working against Loc among b-boys and hip-hop's hardcore, who still resented the success he'd enjoyed in the pop market. Though not quite as strong as the triple platinum Loc-ed After Dark -- either commercially or artistically -- the album is a respectable and satisfying effort. The former L.A. gang member tends to overdo it with boasting lyrics -- a problem he shares with quite a few other rappers -- but his boasts are often quite clever. Sadly, Tone-Loc didn't have much longevity; after Cool Hand Loc, little was heard about him.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

tags: tone loc, cool hand loc, 1991, flac,

Alice Cooper - Pretties For You (2008 Remastered Edition)

*Reissued and remastered in 2008 Rhino/Bizarre/Straight Records
This pressing contains 13 tracks total.

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Label Number: 8122 79927 1

© 1969-1989 Rhino/Bizarre/Straight Records
Alice Cooper's debut album reflected none of his legendary, grotesque hard rock; instead, Pretties for You was an earnest but flawed stab at psychedelia that occasionally caught fire.

tags: alice cooper, pretties for you, 1969, 2008, remaster, flac,

Alice Cooper - School's Out (1972)

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 9 tracks total
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: 2623-2

© 1973-1998 Warner Bros. Records
School's Out catapulted Alice Cooper into the hard rock stratosphere, largely due to its timeless, all-time classic title track. But while the song became Alice's highest-charting single ever (reaching number seven on the U.S. charts) and recalled the brash, three-and-a-half-minute garage rock of yore, the majority of the album signaled a more complex compositional directional for the band. Unlike Cooper's previous releases (Love It to DeathKiller), which contained several instantly identifiable hard rock classics, School's Out appears to be a concept album, and aside from the aforementioned title track anthem, few of the other tracks have ever popped up in concert. That's not to say they weren't still strong and memorable; while such cuts as "Gutter Cat vs. the Jets," "Street Fight," "My Stars," and "Grande Finale" came off like mini-epics with a slightly progressive edge, Alice Cooper still managed to maintain their raw, unrefined punk edges, regardless. Other highlights included the rowdy "Public Animal #9," the mid-paced "Luney Tune," and the sinister, cabaret-esque "Blue Turk."

tags: alice cooper, schools out, 1972, flac,

Alice Cooper - Muscle of Love (1998 Reissue)

*Reissued in 1998 by Warner Bros. Records
This pressing was mastered 
by Jack Richardson & Jack Douglas 
for Nimbus 9 Productions Limited. 
Contains 9 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: 7599-26226-2

© 1973-1998 Warner Bros. Records
Coming off such conceptual, theatrical, sleazy hard rock records as the massively successful School's Out (1972) and Billion Dollar Babies (1973), the Alice Cooper group decided that their next release would be more along the lines of their earlier, more straightforward work (à la Love It to Death). While Muscle of Love was a gold-certified Top Ten success, it performed below expectations (their previous two albums peaked at number two and number one, respectively) and would unfortunately prove to be the original Alice Cooper band's last studio album together. The album may not be as coherent as their previous classics (producer Bob Ezrin took a leave of absence), and more filler is present than usual, yet Muscle of Love is perhaps Alice Cooper's most underrated record -- more than a few overlooked and forgotten classics reside here. The two best-known tracks are undoubtedly the Top 20 anthem "Teenage Lament '74," which features none other than Liza Minnelli and the Pointer Sisters on backing vocals, and the boisterous title track. But other tracks are just as good -- the Led Zep-stomping opener "Big Apple Dreamin' (Hippo)," the gentle "Hard Hearted Alice" (a precursor to Cooper's future ballad-oriented direction), the raging "Working Up a Sweat," and "Man with the Golden Gun" (which was written for the James Bond movie of the same name, but rejected). A forgotten hard rock classic.

tags: alice cooper, muscle of love, 1998, flac,

Alice Cooper - Lace & Whiskey (1977)

*European first pressing. 
Contains 9 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: 7599-26227-2

© 1993 Giant Records
As the rock & roll that made him famous began to grow stale, Alice Cooper found himself desperately trying to revive that fad with Lace and Whiskey. There are no shocking songs here -- just flat, dull melodies that sound like a bad combination of '50s rock & roll and classic '70s rock. One exception to the album might be the Top 20 hit "You and Me," but even this somewhat catchy ballad doesn't save the album from being a bore. Although it isn't as horrible as many critics have claimed it to be, Lace and Whiskey still fails to get anywhere beyond mediocrity.

tags: alice cooper, lace and whiskey, 1977, flac,

Alice Cooper - Zipper Catches Skin (1982)

*European first pressing. 
Contains 10 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: 7599-23719-2

© 1982-1999 Warner Bros. Records
By 1982, Alice Cooper's brand of shock rock had been shoved out of the pop-chart spotlight by new trends like punk and new wave. To counteract this decline in popularity, Cooper worked elements of these sounds into his style and also played up the satirical/comedic angle to his music. The result was Zipper Catches Skin: while it's not a success on the level of Billion Dollar Babies or Welcome to My Nightmare, it is surprisingly listenable. The songwriting subjects are some of the most unusual of Cooper's career, which is saying a lot: "Tag, You're It" is a primarily spoken word spoof of slasher films, while "Zorro's Ascent" depicts the world's most famous swordsman facing down death. However, the strangest of these songs is "I'm Alive (That Was the Day My Dead Pet Returned to Save My Life)," which speaks for itself. These lyrics are often too cutesy for their own good, but this is effectively made up for by the well-crafted, tuneful music that backs them up. Cooper is also assisted by an enthusiastic and energetic performance by the band, who transform tunes like "I Better Be Good" and "Remarkably Insincere" into effective fusions of hard rock riffing and new wave staccato rhythms. While the experimental spirit that drives these songs is refreshing, none of the songs ever jells in a way that would create a cohesive album and none of the songs is strong enough to join the ranks of classics like "School's Out" or "No More Mr. Nice Guy." That said, Zipper Catches Skin contains enough solid tracks to make it a worthwhile listen for hardcore Alice Cooper fans.

tags: alice cooper, zipper catches skin, 1982, flac,

Samael - Ceremony of Opposites (1994) ☠

Country: Switzerland
Language: English
Genre: Black Metal
Label Number: 7764-2
☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1994 Century Media
Samael continued to evolve ever further from their modest necro-black metal beginnings with the release of their watershed third album, Ceremony of Opposites, in 1994. Here, although black metal fundamentals and a few death and thrash metal hallmarks still buttressed the Swiss combo's overall songwriting template, there was also a clinical, ice-cold precision (originating in industrial music) fast encroaching upon violent new offerings like "Black Trip," "Son of Earth," and "Mask of the Red Death." These new developments grew increasingly bolder and more pronounced as the album progressed, so that, with the addition of even more keyboard backdrops and goth rock-inspired (and synth-generated) choired vocals to malefic material like "Celebration of the Fourth" and the title track, Samael arguably achieved the rarefied air that comes with finding a unique and original style. And with the perfect balance between extreme metal fury, disciplined technology, and eerie atmospherics displayed by "Flagellation," the group had effectively struck upon the veritable blueprint for its next and perhaps greatest album, Passage.

tags: samael, ceremony of opposites, 1994, flac,

Gary Numan - Warriors (2002 Remastered Edition)

*Reissued on CD for the fist time in 2002 by Beggars Banquet
This pressing contains 6 bonus tracks. 
15 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave, Synth Pop
Label Number: BBL 47CD

© 1983-2002 Beggars Banquet
Former Be-Bop Deluxe leader Bill Nelson was brought in to produce this album and provide some soaring lead guitar work, but the collaboration with Numan was beset by difficulties involving Numan's ego and approach to recording. While Nelson's production is evident on many tracks and his guitar is heard in several places, much of this is business as usual (a B-side, "Poetry and Power," features more Nelson and has gone on to a great deal of popularity, especially with the Gravity Kills cover on Random). The science fiction influences here are Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Harlan Ellison's "'Repent, Harlequin!' Cried the Tick-Tock Man." While there is some evidence of confusion as to his direction, the music and songwriting has more energy than anything on the predecessor, I, Assassin, with some genuinely engaging moments along the way.

tags: gary numan, warriors, 1983, 2002, remaster, flac,

Casual - Smash Rockwell (2005)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
Label Number: 230119-2

© 2005 Hiero Imperium
Released four years after the disappointment that was He Think He RawCasual's fourth full-length provides yet another change of pace in the MC's career. While Casual produced much of He Think He Raw, he opts here to take a load off, focuses on the MCing, and allows a number of beat-makers -- Dan the AutomatorDante "Is a Scrub" RossDominoJ ZoneJake OneBedrockCompound 7Quincy Tones (!) -- to take the spotlight. The album is fairly uniform and consistently strong, despite the range of producers involved, and Casual is in improved form lyrically, nearly as sharp as he was throughout 1994's Fear Itself. All the talk of taking things back to the early '90s can become nearly as grating as relentless gun talk, but Casual is thankfully less irritable than he was on He Think He Raw. (He even seems to poke fun at himself during the end of "Smash Don't Hurt 'Em," where he humbly apologizes for instances when he caused bodily harm: "And then for them n*ggas who tried to jump me, and I knocked out three of y'all and it was only like five of y'all so you all had to football tackle a n*gga, I hope we all learnt a valuable lesson from that moment, 'cause I know I did.") By the way: the very Casual-like character Smash Rockwell, Casual claims, is the cousin of Handsome Boy Modeling School's Chest Rockwell (aka Prince Paul).

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

tags: casual, smash rockwell, 2005, flac,

April 29, 2022

Miilkbone - Da' Miilkrate (1995)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: CDP 530697 (Club Edition)

© 1995 Capitol Records
From Perth Amboy, Miilkbone's rapid delivery and pumping jams recall fellow New Jersey-ites Naughty By Nature. His lyrics deal with living an inner-city lifestyle, especially on "Ghettobiz."

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

tags: miilkbone, da miilkrate, the milkcrate, milkbone, 1995, flac,

Anne Clark - Hopeless Cases (1987)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Synth Pop
Label Number: DIXCD 48

© 1987 10 Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: anne clark, hopeless cases, 1987, flac,

Gary Numan - Telekon (1998 Remastered Edition)

*Reissued on CD for the first time in 1998 by Beggars Benguet US
This pressing contains 16 tracks total and remastered audio.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Synth Pop, New Wave
Label Number: BBL 19 CD

© 1980-1998 Beggars Banquet US
Gary Numan's follow-up to the flawless The Pleasure Principle was 1980's Telekon. Although it was another mega-hit back home in England (his third consecutive number one album), Numan could not follow up his massive new wave hit "Cars" in the United States, where he was unjustly slapped with the one-hit-wonder tag. Telekon would also turn out to be the last true classic Numan album, as monetary problems and an unfocused attempt to try different musical forms (as well as a short-lived retirement) would steer him away from his original vision. Although Telekon was indeed a strong album, it could have been even stronger if it included the U.K. Top Ten singles "I Die: You Die" and "We Are Glass" (both were recorded during the Telekon sessions). Numan experimented with funk for the first time in his career ("Remind Me to Smile"), but there were still plenty of chilling synth excursions to keep the Numan faithful satisfied -- "This Wreckage," "The Aircrash Bureau," "I'm an Agent," and "I Dream of Wires" are all choice cuts. The 1998 Beggars Banquet re-release eventually did include both the U.K. singles, as well as several other rarities, including a bare "piano version" of "Down in the Park." [Note: In addition to bonus tracks, all of the Gary Numan/Beggars Banquet re-releases contain classic photographs and informative liner notes by Numan biographer Steve Malins.]

tags: gary numan, telekon, 1980, 1998, remaster, flac,

Gary Numan - I, Assassin (2002 Remastered Edition)

*Reissued and remastered in 2002 by Beggars Banquet US
This pressing contains 8 bonus tacks. 
15 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Synth Pop, New Wave
Label Number: BBL 40 CD

© 1982-2002 Beggars Banquet US
After the spare and lengthy reflections and dislocated experiments of his excellent Dance album, Gary Numan made a return to a more focused approach with I, Assassin, which turned out to be his last truly great album for many years. Much of what would characterize his later music in the '80s did start to show up here, to be sure, but instead of the formless flailing all too apparent on Warriors, and especially on Berserker, Numan's work here with modern electronic funk combines his early rigor and to-the-point rhythms with a deft, creative hand in the arrangements. "White Boys and Heroes," the brilliant opening number, remains one of his best singles, featuring fretless bass work from Pino Palladino (long before both it and him had turned into rent-a-clichés), and set against droning, distorted vocals and doom-laden keyboards. The vaguely Asian (or at least the group Japan)-inspired textures of Dance linger on in songs like "A Dream of Siam" and the title track (the latter possessing a captivating hollow-drum-punch introduction), while one of Numan's most randomly entertaining songs pops up with "The 1930s Rust." It's a suave finger-snapping number that even features harmonica, but somehow Numan's ear for to-the-point rhythm and strange futurism still comes through. Perhaps the most underrated song remains the sharp hipshaker "War Songs" -- U2 may never want to admit it, but "Numb" takes more than a little from the distorted up-and-down introductory guitar clips.

tags: gary numan, i assassin, 1982, 2002, remaster, flac,

Capital D & The Molemen - Writer's Block (The Movie) (2002) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: AN-023
☠: Selected by Lass
© 2002 All Natural/Molemen Inc.
Given the singles-oriented nature of the genre, it's not too surprising that you can count the number of great hip-hop concept albums on one hand -- most of 'em coming from the dynamic Handsome Boy Modeling School duo of Prince Paul (see A Prince Among Thieves) and Dan "The Automator" Nakamura (see Dr. Octagonecologyst). But now Writer's Block (The Movie) can be added to that list: Over the course of 14 tracks, MC Capital D and production team the Molemen craft an imagery-filled tale as vivid as anything your average Hollywood writer could concoct. There's Eliza, a "Young Girl Lost" who left home at the age of 15 because her "two block radius was much too small/To contain her ambitions/With no inhibitions at all." There's "Mrs. Manley," the protagonist's elderly neighbor who "was like a surrogate mother for my family/It don't stop there, it's like the whole block/Used to treat her doorstep like a bus stop." And then there's Jay, a local thug who's "a magnet for trouble" and winds up the target of a drive-by in "Crossfire." These characters, and many more, are wound together in a well-crafted storyline that isn't so much about writer's block, the affliction, as it is about a writer with an impeccable eye for detail immersing the listener in the things he witnesses every day on his block. With the pitch-perfect production of the Molemen lending added emotion to each of Capital D's slice-of-street-life tales, Writer's Block really is like a movie waiting to get made.

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

tags: capital d and the moleman, writers block the movie, 2002, flac,

Witchers Creed - Awakened From The Tomb (2019) ⚓

*This is digital store download purchased from Bandcamp
The files have been tagged and sorted for convenience.
Contains 9 tracks total.
Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Traditional Doom
Label Number: None

© 2019 Ripple Music
It is no big secret that we seemingly exist in an era where it has all been done before, that rarely is there something new under the sun, if at all.
Such a reality does not bode well for musicians or music in general, as it lends itself to the notion that none are capable of creating something that is actually new. But, every once in a great while, or once in a blue moon, something comes along that lives up to all the talking hype. Something that sets itself far apart from the laming herd of heaping ho-hummery out there; something that strikes a nerve within you in such a way that it cannot and must not be ignored.

This is the point where we now find ourselves dazed or even slightly addled, from the stark introduction to the full-length début from Katrineholm, Sweden’s WITCHERS CREED, ‘Awakened From The Tomb…‘ Opened to the public by Ripple Music on February 22nd, this nine-song opus is indeed a grand gesture, one whose greatest strength might just be that which has come before…

With riveting elements of everything from Pentagram or Pagan Altar, to Blue Cheer and Witchfinder General, WITCHERS CREED wears their influences out openly upon their sleeves for all to admire. From the opening track “Witchers Creed” and headlong right into follow-ups “Depths Of The Black Void” and “Victims Of Retribution“, we are transported to the early Seventies. Laden with excessive fuzz and possessed with nearly immeasurable proto-metal magnitudes, there is an unsuppressable feeling of youth and vitality to this music.

Songs like “Raven’s Claw” and the amazing “Salem (Resurrection)” are unleashed and delivered with aggressive propulsion behind them. Then, there are other tracks that are soaked with stringently lysergic enhancements, to such a degree that they achieve a mind-bending quality about them. “Larissa” and “Monolith” are certainly two outstanding examples of this.

It would seem that WITCHERS CREED is able to channel some distinctly fantastic qualities in their music, yet do so without ever seeming like clones or somehow merely copying that which has been done before. Instead, they take that which inspires them, from 70’s heavy rock to the power metal of the ’80s, and run it through their own creative machinery. From there, it is reinterpreted, reformatted, and reconstituted in such a way that it becomes a contemporary construct, new music with a most vintage vibe about it.

Time-warp yourself back to the land of lava lamps and tube amps by taking WITCHERS CREED‘s ‘Awakened From The Tomb…‘ for a spin via the Bandcamp stream in this review.

tags: witchers creed, awakened from the tomb, 2019, flac,

Anne Clark - Changing Places (1983)

*First pressing. 
Contains 11 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Synth Pop
Label Number: BEECD 2

© 1983-1991 Beehive
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: anne clark, changing places, 1983, flac,

Anne Clark - Pressure Points (1985)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Synth Pop
Label Number: DIX CD 18

© 1985 10 Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: anne clark, pressure points, 1985, flac,

Editors - The Back Room (2005) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Post Punk
Label Number: PG-0534
☠: Selected by Lass
© 2005 Kitchenware Records
Before issuing their debut, The Back Room, in August 2005, Editors were immediately compared to the dark, brooding sounds of Interpol as well as the post-punk brashness of Echo & the Bunnymen. Singles such as "Blood" and "Bullets" quickly put Editors in the elite crowd of those to watch that year. The band -- Tom Smith (vocals/guitar), Chris Urbanowicz (guitar), Russell Leetch (bass), and Ed Lay (drums) -- compose a tight rock sound that's both raw and defined, particularly on album opener "Lights." Editors are an anxious, frantic, and passionate group, and the album is done with taste from the start. Smith is vocally passionate without being too steely, unlike Interpol frontman Paul Banks, as he exclaims, "I've got a million things to say," while his bandmates add to the song's rushing intensity. From there, the blistering "Munich" and the more luxurious, danceable "Blood" are the standout moments of this 11-song set. "Munich" is one of The Back Room's especially stylish numbers, thanks to the matching guitar work of both Smith and Urbanowicz. The surging storm that is "Bullets" is further proof that from the first note, The Back Room lunges at you with a dynamic that's fierce, wiry, and slightly fashionable. Alternative rock hasn't seen anything like this since the release of Turn on the Bright Lights.

tags: editors, the back room, 2005, flac,

Editors - In This Light & On This Evening (2009)

*Standard pressing. 
Contains 9 tracks total. 
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Synth Pop
Label Number: PIASR 185 CD

© 2009 Kitchenware/[PIAS] Recordings
After two albums, England's premier post-punk revivalists Editors were at a crossroads. Their debut was a commanding snapshot of a young band whose emotional urgency outweighed its slavish devotion to the sounds of late-'70s/early-'80s Manchester -- there was no getting around singer Tom Smith's similarity to Ian Curtis -- but the power and passion of the songs trumped any "British Interpol" accusations. The follow-up found the band falling victim to the dread sophomore jinx, turning out a lackluster rehash of the same ideas as the debut. Ironically, it sold better than the first. Whether or not the band recognized they had come to a musical dead-end despite their booming sales, they were apparently wise enough to know it was time for a change in direction, and they decided to take a rather drastic left turn for their third outing. They've by and large ditched the guitars in favor of synthesizers, for a sound that's more New Order/Ultravox sleek than post-punk scrappy. If you open your mind up wide enough, you can draw a parallel to Van Halen's 1984 -- the sound of a guitar band getting its synth on but retaining its musical identity. While the shift to an electronic approach opens up more possibilities for the band in terms of dynamics, arrangements, and melodic contours -- there's a noticeable slant towards catchy refrains rather than billowing atmosphere -- this is still very obviously an Editors album. Smith's Curtis-like tones still boom out authoritatively, and the ominous intensity of old is a constant presence. And while it seems they will probably never equal the majesty of their debut, Editors have dug themselves out of their artistic cul de sac at least long enough to plan their next move.

tags: editors, in this light and on this evening, 2009, flac,